New teacher-training rules could force trainees to shun Welsh schools for work across the border. Adi Bloom reports
Welsh schools on the English border fear that they are to lose an important source of new teachers because of changes to teacher-training regulations.
Wales has only limited teacher-training places and the closest training colleges for students living near the border are usually in England. As a result, Welsh border schools have been recruiting teachers from those English colleges which send their students to Wales for training placements.
But ministers have now ruled that, in order to acheive qualified teachers status in England, student teachers will have to train "wholly or mainly" in English schools. This is likely to have a significant impact in Welsh border schools, where English colleges offer placements. Students who train in Welsh schools generally go on to work in Wales.
Chris Morgan, director of the Marches Consortium teacher-training co-operative in Herefordshire, awards English QTS, but places many of his trainees in Welsh schools. A substantial number are Welsh mothers, who arrange their placements near the family home. He said: "Now that we have to place Welsh trainees in England, they may end up as far away as Birmingham. So a lot of them won't train. If you live on a border, that border has to be invisible. Teachers need to be able to move back and forth seamlessly."
Shan Davies, head of Builth Wells high, in Powys, offers placements for teachers enrolled at English institutions. Many are subsequently employed to work at the school. She said: "There are no teacher-training institutions in Powys, and Wales has only limited teacher-training places to offer. So we are going to lose a source of teachers. This is very alarming."
For the past year all teaching graduates trained in Wales have been awarded QTS by the General Teaching Council for Wales. Their English counterparts get QTS from the General Teaching Council for England. Teachers with either certificate are qualified to work in England or Wales.
Steve Marshall, head of St Julian's comprehensive in Newport, believes the new regulations will undermine the long-term relationship his school has had with Bristol university. "We had only one trainee from them this year," he said. He is worried too that the changes may have broader implications:
"I'm concerned that students who train in England will think they're not qualified to teach in Wales. We don't want to become separate. That would be doing a huge disservice to the profession."
A Welsh Assembly spokeswoman said: "Training needs to be done 'wholly or mainly' in England, so an element could be done in Wales. And regulations will not prevent qualified English teachers from practising in Wales."